Tua Tagovalioa & The NFL’s Concussion Problem


Image via NPR

Dixon Kalhar

Recently, Miami Dolphins starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, suffered a severe head injury.  Over the span of two games, his head was hit against the turf very hard while being sacked, once each game, and on the second occurrence, during a week 4 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was carted off the field after not being able to move. Tagovailoa was brought to a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, and allowed to fly home with the team early Friday morning. According to ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, Tagovailoa was said to be “in ‘good spirits’ upon returning to his home in South Florida on Friday.”

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Tua Tagovailoa has been the Dolphins’ main starting QB since his rookie year.  He was taken 5th overall in the first round, by the Dolphins in 2020.  In college, he had 7442 total passing yards, only 340 rushing yards, and 474 complete passes.  At Alabama, Tagovailoa was named Offensive MVP of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, and received the Maxwell, and Walter Camp Awards as a sophomore.


A concussion is a kind of traumatic brain injury caused by an impact or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that makes the brain and head move quickly back and forth. This quick movement can cause the brain to bounce around, or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain, and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. Concussions are a widespread epidemic in the NFL.  Although they wear helmets, being a collision sport will still increase the risk of head injuries.  Around 300,000 concussions are caused by football each year. In the NFL  specifically, there are about 200-250 concussions per year.  Around 31 percent of NFL players experience a concussion at one point in their NFL career.  Close to 80 percent of concussions take 10-14 days to fully recover and can return to play after around 1 week, depending on the severity of the injury. 


The NFL and NFLPA recently reported that they would change the NFL concussion protocol after Tua Tagovailoas’s recent injury.  The NFL and NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety.  The consultant, whose name was not given, gave their approval after Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf during Miami’s home win against Buffalo.  The NFL Players Association has fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after he struggled off the field against Buffalo. With concussion protocol changing, Ataxia added the term “gross motor instability” and has been added to the list of symptoms that would prohibit a player from returning to the game. The others are confusion, amnesia, and loss of consciousness. The rule change affected the dolphins by putting down another quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater has been ruled out of Sunday’s Week 5 matchup against the New York Giants. The Dolphins say he suffered an elbow injury, and he was also being evaluated for a head injury and that, according to the NFL network, is why he went from questionable to out.